“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God” (Heb. 11:3).
– Hebrews 11:3
Throughout Hebrews chapter 11, we find examples of the persevering faith that the saints of God must possess if they are to inherit all of the promises of God. It is the faith described in this chapter that contributes to the preservation of our souls (10:39).
What is so remarkable about this faith is that the old covenant saints continued to exercise it even though they never received the promises in their lifetimes (11:13). They refused to abandon their trust in God even though some might have said that this trust was ill-founded since they did not receive what was promised.
We will discuss more in the coming days how we are in a better position than the old covenant saints since we, and all believers since the time of Christ, live in the latter days. In these latter days, God is fulfilling the promises to which the saints of old looked forward. But it is also true that we are in not such a different position because we still must wait for the end of this present age and the transformation of the physical world. We still must wait for these ultimate promises of God to become an experiential reality. As such, we must live our lives by faith just as those did before us. And if the old covenant saints could live by faith before seeing Christ in great detail, how much more can we who have experienced Christ continue in this faith?
In Hebrews 11:3, we read that by faith we understand that God created the universe by His Word from things that are not visible. Let us briefly look at two of the many points covered in this verse. First, John Owen reminds us that this verse tells us that the proper object of our faith is the Word of God. For while all people know that there is a God by looking at nature (Rom. 1:18–20), we know that God created using His Word only through our study of Holy Scripture.
Calvin alludes to a second teaching of this verse. He says that when we view creation as the Word of God views creation, we shall not limit the work of God in His universe only to the instantaneous act of creation. Rather, we also know by faith that God works continually to preserve the created order. Moreover, not only do we understand from the Bible that God creates and preserves, we also understand that He is moving all things to a grand climax and renewal that will be experienced at the return of Christ (1 Cor. 15:20–28).
Western believers have a tendency to become practical deists. We confess that God created the world, but our cultural worship at the altar of naturalism leads many of us to go about our daily lives as if God no longer worked in His creation. As you go about your daily business, remember that God continues to work in your life.